Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- Theme case study is underway
- New speed tweaks I found for us
- Why the migration process is different for the new boutique hosting
- Why I’m looking outside the WP world for new opportunities for us
- What the only thing is that you really own in your online business
- A look at 40 WP milestones as it turns 18 years old
- Cool duotone image filters coming to Gutenberg
- Genesis discusses what making their framework free will look like
- The future of plugins
- 2 more big CMS block Google’s FLoC and what it means for WP and folks who run ads
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I hope all of my U.S. peeps had a nice holiday weekend. And because so many of you with open projects took off, I took a little more easy time for myself too. It did me good. And I’m also so very glad that I decided to take off totally on Sundays now too.
I was overwhelmed with emails on Monday morning, though. And considering I only work a half day for client stuff because I produce Tips Tuesday that afternoon, it’s a little tough to get anything besides emails and the podcast done for the whole day. But, I think it will work.
And I definitely do need to take a full day away from the office. I’ve been running this business sort of like a farmer or a rancher. They work 7 days a week and if they take off, they have to pay someone because things with their livelihood still need to be tended.
But, I felt so much better Sunday night with getting totally away from work for the day and spending time on the phone with my best bud and then 4-5 hours in my wood shop building something. Plus, I got in some extra time with Zak and we took an extended walk around the ‘hood. So he definitely enjoyed me taking off some time too.
Theme Case Study Underway
I’m delighted to tell you that I spun up all of the test sites for the 4 themes I’m testing deeply, including:
I also spun up a control test site with the TwentyTwentyOne theme too.
I did the initial baseline tests and I found something interesting.
New speed tweaks for us
None of these test sites are on Cloudflare or have any caching/optimization plugin or other speed tweaks.
And I noticed that the Time to First Byte (TTFB) was way slower than what I would expect on a Litespeed Server. I happened to have a live session with our new boutique host right after I took these tests and he suggested looking into the PHP settings. Turns out that there are a couple of things not turned on by default in the PHP options that directly impact TTFB.
I turned them on, ran another test, and boom!! That fixed the TTFB issue.
Since me and all of my clients use Cloudflare, we don’t see this issue much because Cloudflare pretty much handles delivery of most of the content that impacts TTFB.
But, CF doesn’t deliver everything, just the static content that can be cached.
So, I’m going to turn on those 2 settings on some live sites and do before and after testing to see if they make any difference for a site on Cloudflare like they did in my static site tests.
But, it really has to be on a site where there is dynamic content, like a home page that displays the latest blog posts or such, for me to see the difference.
I have such a setup like that on Heartwood Art, but I don’t post enough for it to change the home page very often. I may have to contact one of my clients who publishes new posts every few days to do a test on their setup.
Or, I may just go with the static test data that I already have that proves how much better it makes the speed and just start turning it on for myself and all site audit clients who are on Litespeed servers.
Boutique hosting update
We are continuing to move qualifying site audit clients, who are already on my wait list, into the new boutique hosting.
We’re refining our methods because how the migration is done really depends on the original host they are coming from. SiteGround is by far the worst of it, as there are 30+ pieces of their proprietary junk that we have to make special arrangements to avoid bringing over or clean some of it out later.
But there is a host that is even worse to migrate from, and that’s Lyrical. They have an odd, proprietary setup that is on a system which is no longer even supported. And they can’t put your site back to standard like WPEngine and other fully managed hosts do prior to moving away.
Coming from A2 Hosting, NameHero, and BigScoots is not hard. But, we’re not doing the regular free cPanel migration where all of their setup stuff comes over. The move is done another way to ensure we don’t have any of the wrong, hidden server setup stuff come along for the journey.
Our new boutique hosting is super lean and super clean and tuned perfectly and we want to keep it that way!!!
So, there is a cost to the migration because we have to clean out so much old host junk and we’re trying to standardize the pricing depending on the original host involved.
Site audit client TOS in effect
I took the time last week to go through my list of site audit clients and put into effect the new Perks and Terms of Service.
Folks who are not keeping their sites in compliance are getting dropped from the free support I give in the BB Hub membership and Facebook groups, plus the extra perks we have there like the upcoming masterminds and such.
I did take the time to individually email folks who were on the hairy edge of the time limit to give them a last chance, though. And the deadlines on that are today through the 3rd, depending on when I sent the email.
So, if you got an email from me with the subject line of an overdue site audit, please open it and take action immediately.
Looking outside the WP world
Y’all know that I spend at least 20 hours a week reading and researching to help keep us ahead of the curve with what’s going on in our industry, which is running an online business on WordPress.
But, I have been listening to podcasts lately that cover online tech in general and a few things have stood out to me.
There are lots of companies providing no-code app building now, like Bubble.io.
And then companies like Kajabi and Webflow are offering website experiences that integrate more than just a blog or shop. They have courses and even a forum that runs very much like your own Facebook group inside them.
And the best part – they are all zero tech.
I do believe that the messy WordPress revolution we are living through right now is going to be worth it as far as being able to create your entire site, theme and all, with blocks.
But I also see that there really good platforms to use outside of WordPress too.
The only thing you own is your email list
I’ve always heard the advice that it’s a bad idea to build your online presence on rented platforms. You should build where you own the platform.
Well the truth is, people buy condos in buildings they don’t own all the time.
And some folks rent their whole adult lives and never own a home.
The fact is, there are folks making millions off transitory platforms while they last.
So, what if you build an audience on TikTok and it dies? So what?
If you can get those folks to your site and on your email list, they will follow you to the next platform where they can see your stuff.
Remember G+? Some of us built a big following there.
Same with Blab.
And we survived and brought our peeps with us to another rented platform.
And you don’t really own your WP site either.
We are all at the mercy of its constant changes, and constant changes with plugins, hosts, and the coding languages all of it is built on.
You’re just renting space at a host, renting that pretty theme you had built, and renting premium plugins.
Or, you may say that you bought all that stuff so it’s yours.
Yeah, you bought a condo in a high rise building you don’t own.
You have no control over what anyone above, below, or beside you does.
You hope the superintendent keeps everything in good repair, but the elevator will break down now and then, or the heater, or such.
So, I am going to continue taking a look around outside of the WP world now and then and seeing how folks use apps on their phone and see if there are other opportunities for us that have nothing to do with our sites directly.
That’s all the happenings around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Last week, WP celebrated its 18th anniversary.
And since they have had 40 releases and now power 40% of the web, they created a post of 40 milestones since their release in 2003. It’s a fun read, especially when you see things on the timeline like when they hit a billion plugin downloads and such.
How fun is this? One of the Gutenberg enhancements coming in WP 5.8 this summer is a new image filter.
You’ll be able to add Duotones to your images and cover blocks just like the ones on Instagram.
Go see the cute cat examples they have of the different kinds of looks you can get.
Last week you may recall that I broke the news that the Genesis framework will be free. And this move will bring it into alignment with where all modern themes are going, such as the ones I’m running my case study on.
But, in the notes from their May Shapers meeting, it doesn’t seem to me like they have thought this all the way through yet. There are still lots of questions and discussion around what Genesis Full Site Editing is going to look like, and what the future of the StudioPress theme site is going to be.
I encourage my Webmaster designers to give this a read, no matter what your main design framework is.
Genesis is a big player in the WP theme world and they are still helping to shape that ecosystem.
Post Status has released the audio of one of their group meetings where they discussed the monetization of plugins.
And one of the things they talked about was the limitations of what they can say or promote in their free plugin version listing in the WP.org plugin directory.
About 25 minutes in, the host said he would really like to see something done about all of the admin notifications that plugins post on our admin pages when we’re logged in.
You may recall me ranting about those notifications in previous Tips Tuesdays, including a recent article that called out WP to do something about it.
So, maybe this idea is finally getting some traction.
I hope so because all the ads and such are making you just put the whole lot of them on total ignore and you’re missing critically important info that you need.
So, please do get into the habit of dismissing those notifications after you read them and take action, if needed.
And if they don’t stay dismissed, then complain to the dev who makes it.
If we collectively raise our voices about it, they’ll get the hint to do something about it.
Considering that some of these plugins and themes have 100k users, it really will take all of us raising our voices for them to listen. So, do take that action, please.
You may recall back in April that I reported a proposal submitted to WordPress to block FLoC, which stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts and is Google’s replacement for 3rd party cookie tracking that they are dropping in Chrome due to privacy concerns.
Safari and Firefox dropped 3rd party cookie tracking nearly a year ago.
Well, WordPress hasn’t made any moves in the direction of blocking FLoC, but WP isn’t the only CMS in use on the web. (CMS is Content Management System.)
Joomla and Drupal are 2 very popular CMS platforms that are used by enterprise sites and especially with transactional sites, like an online pizza order system or such.
Your online banking may be on Joomla or Drupal too.
And they have both decided to block FLoC due to security concerns, including cross-content exposure, which allows tracking of a user within the cohort they are assigned to. And that allows them to get a super good idea of what you like without having to track you across sites you visit to figure that out.
In other words, these cohorts amount to profiling with even less data than 3rd party cookies gave advertisers.
And it is that potential profiling that is the basis of the proposal that was submitted to WordPress.
In WP’s public responses, they have acknowledged that they realize a lot of WP users monetize by running ads on their sites. And blocking FLoC at the WP level would be detrimental to those blogger’s incomes.
But, WP will not ignore this move by both Joomla and Drupal either.
So, I’ll continue to keep a close eye on this for you and I’ll keep you posted.
But, do know that if you run ads on your site, even if WP does block FLoC, the ad agencies will likely come up with a way to unblock it, just like they get around the ad blockers used by some folks in their browsers now.
The real concern is that if enough stink gets raised about FLoC in general, Google may have to either modify it or abandon it, and that’s going to cause issues for all advertisers to be able to target their ads. And that’s the part of this I’m watching the closest for you.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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